As soon as Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey, appeared on the screen, I could hear sighs of contentment and anticipation throughout the theater. Fans of the television series, many of us have watched all six seasons and looked forward to this motion picture event.
While each major storyline had been neatly wrapped up in the 2016 finale, I knew that series creator Julian Fellowes would find an intriguing way to reunite the upstairs-downstairs cast.
His solution: King George V and Queen Mary (Queen Elizabeth’s grandparents) have planned a royal visit to Downton Abbey.
The announcement sends everyone into a tizzy.
Fearing that butler Barrow (Robert James-Collier) is not up to the task of supervising the preparations, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) calls upon Carson (Jim Carter) to come out of retirement and take charge.
Carson’s formidable skills are put to the test when the royal advance team (butler, cook, footmen, housekeeper) arrives and informs the Downton staffers that their services will not be needed during the visit.
As the rivalry between the two staffs intensifies, lady’s maid Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) takes charge and organizes a “downstairs” rebellion. A series of humorous escapades follow. My favorite involves Molesley (Kevin Doyle), the socially clumsy footman, who shocks the royals and all in attendance with his shenanigans.
Upstairs, Tom Branson (Allen Leech) deals with an assassination attempt and a possible love connection, and the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) argues with a distant cousin (Imelda Staunton) over an inheritance.
The Dowager Countess and Isobel Grey (Penelope Wilton) are in rare form as they deliver verbal salvos throughout the film. Julian Fellowes should consider a spin-off with these two characters.
In a recent interview, Fellowes was asked if there would be another Downton Abbey movie. He responded, “Well, there’s always that chance.”
Let’s hope he takes that chance.